Growing old is something anime often ignores, but this moving short shows that with the right partner, it can be the best thing in the world.

Japanese animation has always done a good job of making being young look awesome, with anime teens’ days filled with love confessions, magical powers, and/or fantastic adventures. A new short anime, though, shows that life doesn’t stop being beautiful once you get old, and we’re not talking about the stereotypical anime standard that says you’re old once you hit your late 20s, but legitimate senior-citizen status.

The heartwarming short is the latest animated commercial for Japanese miso maker Marukome’s Ekimiso line of miso paste, and stars silver-haired married couple Yoko and Michio. Yoko has injured her legs, and so Michio, who’s retired, has taken on all the housework duties, including cooking dinner.

“My wife hurt her legs, so now it’s just me in the kitchen.”

But Michio has no complaints about his new role as the family chef. If anything, it’s Yoko who’s worried about making him do everything by himself, as she broaches the subject of staying in the hospital so that Michio won’t have to take care of her. “Would you rather be in the hospital?” Michio asks, and when she responds with “No, not necessarily,” the dedicated husband kindly says “In that case, I’ll take care of the housework.”

▼ He even does the shopping.

Gradually, Michio’s cooking repartee expands and his skills improve. “If I do this, my wife can stay in our home. She handled the cooking for so many years,” he narrates, recalling his pre-retirement days when it was Yoko who was cooking every night.

When he tries out a new recipe, Yoko is especially impressed with the results. “This is delicious,” she remarks, causing Michio to muse “It feels so nice having someone say your cooking is delicious. I used to only say ‘thank you’ at the start and end of the meal, but I left out something important.”

▼ Michio, blushing at the favorable review of his cooking.

The beautiful visuals, with subtly expressive character animation and detailed backgrounds filled with realistic touches that make them look truly lived in, are extremely reminiscent of the visual style of Studio Ghibli, as are the gorgeous, mouthwatering depictions of the food Michio is making.

The credit actually, though, goes to Robot Communications (Academy Award winner for animated short La Maison en Petits Cubes, and Answer Studio, with character design/animation direction handled by Hiroshi Kawamata.

As the video nears its finish, we see the couple out for a stroll, with Yoko in her wheelchair and Michio pushing. Yoko confides that she was worried about whether her condition would affect their relationship, but has since put her mind at ease. Michio then asks what she wants him to make for dinner, and she eventually replies with “nikujaga,” a dish of stewed meat, potatoes, and carrots that’s a traditional and beloved staple of home cooking in Japan.

While the beautiful visuals are what most strongly command your attention, make sure to listen carefully to the music as well. Just like this is a story of two people, the soundtrack is a duet, specifically a piano/violin one. What’s really special, though, is that the producers selected a violin that’s 170 years old, and a piano that’s at least 90, if not older. That age gives them a deep, complex, and emotionally stirring sound, and it’s an example that some things in life, like your relationship with your one true love, really do get better with age.

Source: YouTube/マルコメ公式チャンネル(marukomeOfficial) via IT Media, Marukome
Top image: YouTube/マルコメ公式チャンネル(marukomeOfficial)
Insert images: Marukome, YouTube/マルコメ公式チャンネル(marukomeOfficial)
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Follow Casey on Twitter, where he’s having food flashbacks to his wife’s delicious nikujaga.